Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Like Riding a Bicycle

Whew! I haven't forgotten how to
kill ducks. We had an awesome hunt

My friend, Mike T. had two open
spots to hunt Broadmoor WMA and
invited Jim and I to join him. He
was pick 11 out of 14, but with the
way things have been going lately,
sure to move higher with no shows.

The forecast was for dense fog. I've
had good hunts in fog and some
really bad hunts. I was nervous
as we drove out in fog so thick
that we were under 30 mph
for quite a bit of the drive. But,
no fog at the check in station and
no fog on the marsh. Very strange.

We did move up a few slots and
my buddy, Duckmanjr, gave us some
good G2 when our pick came and we
were off. I've had some really good
hunts in 2 North before and this
one was no exception. Mike has
bad hips and can't wade too far
so he hunted near the levee, but
Jim and I decided to head about
4 tenths of a mile away from
him where we had heard large
numbers of black bellied
whistling ducks. It wasn't a
hard wade by any stretch and
we found a spot where a lot
of ducks took off in the
dark. (That's a noise that
will make you stop for a
second). We each put out
decoys at opposite ends of
a long row of reeds. For
once, the hidden, lateral
ditch was in the middle
of the clump of reeds and
not much of a threat.

No sooner did I have my
dekes out than I talked
myself into moving to the
opposite side of the reeds.
That way Jim would be looking
south and I north and we'd have
a good view of where the ducks
were flying.

In the wait until shooting time,
I've never had so many bb whistling
ducks around me. About
8 minutes before legal light,
I group of 8 or 9 came across
on my left all of them singing
and wide open. It took every
ounce of ethical energy not
to get my limit right there.

Later in the morning, we were
also serenaded by fulvous
whistling ducks. Their
notes are a little easier to imitate,
but both birds can be talked
into your spot if you have
enough guys with whistles
to offset their social
gatherings. Jim and I
did our best.

When shooting time did come,
it was all blue wing teal in
shooting range. I dropped one
that fell hard in some reeds.
I had to search the spot three
times over the morning to find
my bird. Behind me, Jim got
a teal. He moved south a bit
to where some birds were working,
but I was doing pretty well
where I was. I added three
more teal (including a true
double) and then got a double
on a group of black bellies
that came through. One of
them landed in the next cell
up and was still swimming.
I was able to reach him and
put an anchor shot on it.

Jim wasn't having as much luck.
I had him move to my spot and
then move north a cell. I
saw him drop one teal stone
dead in some low weeds. It
should have been an easy
retrieve. Where it went
we'll never know. Maybe
a mudfish that survived the
freezes got it.

I was sitting back at our
original spot. Even though
I had limited, not a duck
had decoyed all morning.
It was all passing shots.
Suddenly, there was a whir
in front of me and a splash.
Four or five blue wings flew
through, but a nice drake
and hen landed 30 feet in
front of me. I sat stone
still for about 10 minutes.
Neither duck seemed to
notice me in the reeds.
I was able to learn that
they would actually land
in a hyacinth patch. As
far as I know that's not
a food source. They
eventually took off and
I moved up with Jim.

A little later four fulvous came
over. Jim had switched
to my Baikal 12ga because
his little Remington 20ga
wasn't cycling right. I
yelled at him to shoot one
of the fulvous and he popped
up and hit one. Unfortunately,
it wasn't hit hard and sailed
on the wind a couple hundred
yards behind us. I saw where
it went down and went off
on the retrieve. After
crossing two laterals, I
saw the bird making for a
large patch of fairly low
stuff. I got there and
spent 20 minutes stomping
around (part of which in
a third lateral) before I
gave up. I really wanted
Jim to get his first fulvous.
When I got back to him,
he had gotten three more
blue wings and we called it
a day. It was warm and we
had drunk all our water and
had a healthy wade back to
the levee. By then the wind
had freshened and was at
my back. I let the decoy
sled float back to shore
with only the occasional
nudge from me. There were
still so many teal flying
that I could easily have
shot another limit on my
way back in. At the check
station, we found that Mike
had limited on teal too. A
great day for all of us.

After that, we went to
picking. Teal are
easy this time in the
season, but the black bellies
are next to impossible.

A really fun day.




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